Far from the crowd pleasing orientalism of Benjoin 19 (Le Labo's Moscow "city exclusive") which I had reviewed for Fragrantica last autumn, Cuir 28 by Le Labo reprises some of the butcher elements of the great leather perfumes tradition and marries them to a woody-peppery chord with unisex appeal. This brings it at a no man's land of leather scents, as it doesn't fit the mold of any category really; is it like Bandit (Piguet), Cabochard (Gres), Cuir de Russie (Chanel), Cuir de Lancome, John Varvatos Vintage, Tuscan Leather (Tom Ford), Bel Ami (Hermes) etc etc? It's like none of these things.
The phenols (tar-like notes) resurface in Cuir 28 as a leathery note aspect on top; sharp and oozing with bitumen, the leather note in Cuir 28 is unpresentable, tough as nails, probably an echo of Parchouli 24 which also presents an odd and visceral experience, especially if you're after sweet oriental or "suede" leathers. The hardcore leather bar crowd however should find it eminently intriguing due to this very reason, although a bit of vanilla does surface later on to cajole and give some human affection.
The progression soon gains the iris-peppery combination that makes for the prolonged elegance of Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon, only the execution seems like it has diverged into two slices in the Le Labo creation, a still dry and with hints of vetiver earthiness medley that feels like a different person has walked into the room. The two slices do not meet in the pie and remain sort of disjointed throughout, which produces an odd but trippy experience for the wearer; in a way it's probably a test of dedication: will you have the patience to discover the unfolding of the notes?
The final phase of Cuir 28 comes through a hint of musky vanilla that tries to efface the butch factor of the top note, small comfort for the wild ride. For the full review please consult this link on Fragrantica.
Though a Dubai exclusive (Le Labo reserves some of its fragrances for city-specific distribution only resulting in the City Exclusive) for the month of September 2014 ONLY Cuir 28 can be found online at the official Le Labo site and Luckyscent. (I had been able to review this thanks to a generous procurer of the sample; you know who you are, thanks)